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Billie Sieg, the BPOE, and excluding visitors from “Christian” organizations…

Hey all,


If you’ve been reading the one redeeming factor of the Portland Oregonian (besides the comics, and the NYT Crosswords) you may have come across Margie Boule’s recent columns regarding Billie Sieg, the BPOE (Elks Lodge), and excluding visitors from “Christian” organizations.


For more background on this series, check out Margie’s webpage.


In a nutshell, 80-year old Sieg wanted to join the Elks, but on her application form she noted, honestly, that she was an athiest. The Elk’s not only denied her membership (which I hesitantly agree with) but also banned her from visiting the lodge with friends, as she had done in the past (which I disagree with.)


Here is my letter to Margie:


I just wanted to drop you a note of support and say that, as a Christian, and after reading the last several days article on Billie Sieg and the whole “BPOE” debacle, you’ve changed my position on this issue and that doesn’t happen often, lol.

While I still firmly believe that private organizations have the right to limit membership based on the tenets of their charters, the Elks, specifically, raise my eyebrow at this “no visitor” ruling for two reasons.

The first (and lesser) is personal experience. Both my father and Grandfather were life-long members of the Elks, and I don’t recall that it was a particularly “religious” experience for them.

I have photo of my grand-dad sitting at a BPOE bar with a beer in front of him and two empties on the side, circa 1960. He was a big fan of visiting the Elk’s lodge bar on Friday nights, drinking deeply, and then going to a nearby field to fist-fight anyone who took exception to him. This was a regular occurrence.

Not exactly a WWJD situation, lol.

A life-long alcoholic and a physically abusive husband and father, he was buried with full BPOE honors, including an inscription on his headstone.

Not that this portrays, in any way, a typical BPOE member, but it’s not exactly a gold-standard for a “Christian” organization.

Which brings me to my second, and more important, point: as a Christian (both personally and professionally) I’m at a loss as to where, Biblically, these members of the Elks would find an example of Christ turning away a non-believer.

I checked with my own Pastor and was happy to find that our attitude is that we would happily invite Billie Sieg, or any other non-Christian, to join our service in the hopes that we would be able to demonstrate to them the love of Christ, and help them find the gift of His salvation.

An organization that labels itself Christian and yet turns away the lost is a spiritual oxy-moron of “biblical” proportions!

Hope that doesn’t sound too “preachy” but maybe if the BPOE really wants to extend their “Christian influence” they should more readily welcome, with love and open arms, those who most need it.

Just one “Christians” opinion,



So…that was what I had to say. I welcome your thoughts and opinions below…



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5 thoughts on “Billie Sieg, the BPOE, and excluding visitors from “Christian” organizations…

  1. Mary Lou on said:

    I worked at the Elks when I was in high school and I never would have guessed it was supposed to have a christian base. I have trouble with an organization that claims a christian status yet does nothing to encourage or discipline it’s patrons in a Christ like manner. When I worked there I was hit on by married women and men while their spouses were up at the bar getting more drinks; I had been cussed out by the patrons and treated like dirt for being just a busboy when I mentioned it to the managers I was told that members at Elks are allowed more leeway than patrons at a public restaurant/bar.
    For a group that condones this sort of behavior (I am assuming not much has changed) to say they won’t welcome someone that is an athiest is so amazingly hypocritical.
    Although now that I think about it, it’s probably best for those that are actually trying to follow Christ if an athiest does not get to see that kind of behavior, they really don’t need any more reasons to not believe christians. We give them enough day to day excuses (myself included) to doubt our beliefs.

  2. Leslie on said:

    Just for the record, there’s a little misinformation here and I’d like to set it straight. The Elks are NOT a Christian-based organization at all. The current Exalted Ruler in our Lodge is a Conservative Jew.

    The application asks if you believe in God- a very broad and vague question, because the intiation requires you to assume the obligation of membership by swearing on a bible. So the God question kind of eliminates the “fingers crossed” kind of loophole.

    It is unfortunate that this happened to someone who was truly interested in joining- we can certainly use all the members that we can get to carry out our charitable programs.

    It is also unfortunate that this Lodge has decided to stop this person from attending their functions or patronizing their bar with her friends who are members. This is only the decision of that specific Lodge’s members and not reflective of the practices of the organization.

  3. Leslie,

    “This is only the decision of that specific Lodge’s members and not reflective of the practices of the organization.”

    You make a good point.

    Thanks for posting!


  4. Billie Sieg on said:

    June 11,08 I met with the Exaulted Elk himself. No good resubmitting my application proclaiming belief in our natural world or anything else undefinable such as “God.” In spite of what their Handbook for New Members said, they do not accept “agnostics.” I think he begrudging acknowledged that perhaps that should be rewritten and clarified. The Secretary, who attended our meeting, also added that they are protecting their liquour license and their non-taxable status. I give up!

  5. Billie Sieg on said:

    Update: I’m still barred but no problema as I will be moving to CA soon where they are probably not opposed to “agnostics, communists and bootleggers” as their bylaws prohibited! I wonder if felons, child molesters and wife beaters are welcome? Drunks certainly are…

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